Speed run of Chrono Trigger in 34 segments completed on October 26 2005. Timing note: uses game timer at last seen moment in final part plus remaining real time until final damage on Lavos.
This is by far my most polished run -- over a month in the making and numerous test runs and multiple strategies attempted, resulting in a final run that dips below the five hour mark.
What will impress most people, I predict, will be the boss fights. Most of the bosses I take on are at wildly inappropriate levels or stages in the game, resulting in shall we say close encounters with death. The next thing is the large amount of enemy fights I avoid. I'm not talking about entering a battle and running away -- I mean leave in the dust from the get-go. If you ever see me taking bizarre routes through the otherwise simple paths you'll know that I just skipped an enemy encounter or three. As far as I know I skip every encounter possible with a small handful of exceptions which I will document later.
I imagine the hardcore Chrono Trigger fans will watch every segment anyway but I'll provide comments for each one, maybe pointing out things the more casual viewer might want to see along with my usual banter.
Before starting, however, I must doll out some credit. There's no way I did such a complicated game by myself in such a short time span. In no particular order...
Saturn: He likes to do emulated 100% runs of RPG's. He knew a lot about this game and gave some useful information.
Tilus: Although his attempted emu-rape of CT fizzled and died I learned an enormous amount of knowledge from his run, some strategies being lifted entirely from his work. It was interesting comparing my initial test runs with his; I was surprised at how many things we did the same. I attempted to emulate his run as closely as possible, which led to much consternation on my part in a couple areas (mainly critical hits and menus).
GameFAQs: For general information I used DJellybean and Phoenix's guides. Another important tool was the low-level walkthrough by Crinkles, for obvious reasons.
Chrono Trigger Compendium: A great site with lots of information.
Let's talk about critical hits. Generally, they're random but they seem predictable in some circumstances if you do certain actions in a certain order. In the early part of the game where I rely on physical attacks a critical hit that kills an enemy in one hit instead of two can save a solid five seconds, which can lead to much frustration in attempting to recreate it.
There's something goofy about the speed aspect of characters. I think Tilus complained about this on the message boards somewhere. Regardless, it appears that it doesn't work very consistently. If character A has 10 speed and B has 5, A should have twice as many turns as B, right? Well...sometimes. Also, if two characters have the same speed (say, for the purposes of performing a double technique) they should be able to attack simultaneously, right? Guess again. Sometimes I'll be mashing A as their gauges fill up and be caught off guard when one is ready and the other isn't.
Another odd characteristic of the battle system is timing. I'm not sure how to explain this exactly. A good example is the inner Lavos: he opens with Doors of Doom before you can do anything -- no matter what. Sometimes your gauges are barely filled as he opens them, other times they almost get to the end! This has serious consequences when immediately after he throws around 300 damage sickles on your almost wiped out party and you're desperately trying to heal. This seems to apply to all enemy encounters: the rate at which you can attack in certain time frames just seems random (another good example where it's obvious is the Magus fight as he casts dark matter).
I love RPG's like this where the enemies are onscreen and can be avoided. There are also times when an invisible boundary is on the path and if you cross it you will automatically enter a predetermined battle (usually via creative circumstances, like something popping out of bushes or being flown in via a bird or popping out of a vent or...). In many cases you can run around the boundary...there are very few totally unavoidable battles in the game.
01 -- Into the Past:
First off, I select 'wait' for the battle configuration because in the end it doesn't really affect the time. Whether I use 'active' or 'wait' I need to make decisions ASAP since this is, well, a speed run. The difference is that with 'wait' I won't have enemies' battle gauges filling up or render myself open to attacks when I am, say, scrolling through items or spells. Other times this is all rendered moot since nothing can happen until the action before it is over (e.g. sometimes I take my sweet time selecting something but hey, Crono is casting lightning...).
Perhaps I should have named Crono a one character name. I'm sure over the course of five hours that would have saved several seconds. But who wants to follow the adventures of C?
The game timer starts running as soon as mother dearest begins talking. By the time you can move Crono about a minute has elapsed.
This segment is mostly story filler. The tonic and power glove will prove useful later, though.
02 -- God Save the Queen:
Apparently the middle ages had a huge smog problem.
I skip two battles in the woods. Lots of dialogue at the castle...yadda, yadda, gotta save the Queen and restore the original timeline. Back in the woods with Lucca I fight two battles on purpose in order to earn fire whirl, which will be very useful soon.
03 -- The Cathedral:
Taste burning fire, pink demons! This is a good example of the timing thing I was talking about early. Sometimes I get attacked just once, like here, other times they all attack before I can perform the fire whirl, resulting in a reset.
04 -- Yakra:
As far as I'm aware Yakra is unique in CT in that his behavior is affected by the proximity of the attacking character. If you're a certain distance away he will do a counter-attack that hurts everyone for 10-15 damage. Besides eating up time I can't sustain that much damage at this point. Thus, I only attack with the closest character. At first this is always Frog, but with persistence/luck you can find him in a sweet spot where Crono/Frog can hammer on him with impunity. After Lucca expires he will stop all counter-attacks so it doesn't even matter for the last part.
05 -- The Trial:
This is all dialogue. I suppose you can watch it to relive your memories. My question: is the chancellor at this point the real deal or Yakra's descendent from the rainbow shell quest that takes place towards the end of the game? But regardless, two fake Chancellors in one game! Sheesh...
06 -- The Great Escape:
In terms of timing, waiting and fighting your way out are roughly the same. I prefer fighting because it's more exciting and earns me experience and items. I know you can avoid both the guards in the one hallway and I tried, I really did...I just couldn't pull it off for some reason. That's another five seconds. I feel better about this because I include the Dragon Tank battle in this segment which you can see I get through by the hair of my chinny chin chin.
07 -- The Guardian:
Persistence coupled with an expectation of failure is a good way to take on the Guardian robot. Do you like how it's the only fight in the entire segment? I like how Marle is neurotic and just wants to touch random buttons on the computer display, ultimately resulting in the party's knowledge of Lavos...how lame. But in the end, all this effort was for a stupid bike key.
08 -- A Bleak Future:
The bike race is fun at first but after playing it several dozen times in a row I want to strangle the stupid black man/robot thing. What the hell is he anyway?
Tiptoeing is required around that one group of robots. Shhhh!
Should I make fun of Robo's original purpose when he calls a woman "mistress" when most people associate that word with something other than a title of respect? No? Well, okay.
The entire power plant area makes me a sad panda mainly due to the acid enemies. They either take a good amount of damage or one point; totally random. Speaking of random, the mixture of green/red acids is also random, which can cause some problems when they fuse together for that nasty attack...and greens are weaker than fires by far and are faster to slay. Damn you Squaresoft, damn you.
Feel the agony of Robo being taken down by a metallic lynch mob...maybe a minute too long, don't ya think? When the battle finally starts it's of utmost importance for Crono to have the power glove equipped because otherwise it takes three cyclones instead of two to take out a group. And yes, some runs failed when they ganged up on Crono and ignored Marle.
09 -- Mastering Magic:
Not much to say here...one required battle. Magic owns all.
10 -- Heckran Goes to Heck:
Every new boss is the hardest so far. Of course, when he tells you to attack you shouldn't unless you want a game over. Basically, every cycle is like playing Russian roulette...and I have to go through three of 'em. I use Marle because Robo's laser spin just tickles him.
The Taban vest is on Lucca until near the end of the game. Goodbye Fire damage!
11 -- Battle for Zenan Bridge:
So a massive military campaign is occurring within walking distance of the castle and they forgot to send food for the soldiers? The Mystics deserve to conquer humanity.
My levels are so low that none of my elemental attacks can kill the skeletons in one hit, so I must use Robo and Lucca's dual tech fire punch. The area affect is a nice touch as well.
Zombor -- what a great name. Top absorbs fire and lightning, bottom is weak to 'em. I have to kill the top first because if you don't he'll end up doing a really nasty attack. This fight is a cinch, actually.
12 -- Denadoro Mountains:
Only three fights are required and one of them you can run from -- everything else, skipped! Most are simple, except for the one before the waterfall where you fall to get the silver stud/earring...either it requires luck or near pixel perfect movement because I failed a lot here. It's a huge timesaver, though, netting a solid 40 seconds or so over my old run where I just ran from it twice.
13 -- Masa & Mune:
I attack Masa because if you hurt Mune they perform a naughty counter-attack. Their combined form is actually rather tame -- he's just a tank in terms of health. All you need to know is to use slash to prevent him from using his devastating tornado attack.
This marks the first appearance of the "super important" boss music!
14 -- Prehistoric Plot:
Meet Ayla, the supermodel cavewoman -- works for me! You know, in the Japanese version they aren't having a soup drinking contest...ahem, anyway, marvel as I run through the forest maze evading all enemies!
One question: why do the dinosaurs have bellybuttons? Think about it.
15 -- Back to the Future:
Nizbel is the first boss where my low levels are actively hindering my ability to survive instead of my refusal to heal. Every time he releases the lightning energy it's touch and go. I have to quickly stun him with Chrono's lightning again before he can do a charge attack or something while healing everyone for the next salvo. In the end, I just kept doing it until Ayla pulled off a lot of critical hits.
The rest of the segment is mostly fluff, dealing with reconstructing the Masamune and insights into Frog's past. I know that in the cave you get skip those last encounters but I desperately need their easy tech points.
16 -- Slash is Slashed:
This guy is brutal. The frustrating part is that he's a cakewalk until the very end where he busts out devastating attacks and seemingly gains speed, allowing him to knock out someone if he focuses on one character too much. The sword he leaves behind is nice, though -- good damage upgrade and +2 speed.
17 -- Flea Extermination:
Flea is the master of status ailments. His normal attack has a high chance of putting you to sleep and he can also poison, blind, and chaos you with spells. Very annoying but not too difficult -- most of the resets occurred because he put me to sleep too many times.
18 -- Ozzie is in a Jam:
Ozzie is a loveable chump. This segment has a lot of required fighting and lots of leveling up. I know I could've avoided some of the fights on the second outside staircase but, again, I need the tech points. The dark mail and speed belt are amazing items that I get a lot of utility from throughout the run -- definite pickups.
19 -- Magus Magic Mania:
This one took a LONG time.
Yes, I too find it bizarre that the bat in the middle of the friggin' circle didn't die. But at least you understand why I took place in some optional fights...
So, Magus, the dark wizard...yeah, he's a bastard. I spent a lot of time attempting to understand the rationale behind his actions and I'm still puzzled. According to most sources when you inflict 3,333 damage he shifts to his second phase but this is obviously incorrect. It seemed that using Frog's Masamune in addition to hoping for lots of fire attacks was the best way to lower the time as much as possible.
As you can see, putting the speed belt on Frog is a pretty good idea...
Oddly enough, his second spell was shadow almost every single time followed by his normal attack -- always on Crono. What did I do to deserve that?
His second phase allows me to do the most damage but also opens me up to possible extinction. The only bad thing is that I should've given another ether to Crono.
20 -- Paleolithic Powering:
I love the music of the 'dactyl nest. I also enjoy the fact that the music continues from where it left off after an enemy battle -- most games don't do that. The title refers to the several minutes of fighting I do to get volt bite. At this point, this the fastest way to get tech points.
21 -- Nizbel II:
The original Nizbel fight was interesting but I didn't personally think a second encounter was warranted. I mean really Square, you couldn't think of a better prehistoric themed boss? How about a pterodactyl or a sabertooth?
Volt bite makes him very manageable.
22 -- Tyrannosaurs & Tyrants:
Precise movement is needed to avoid the many, many enemy encounters on the outside terrace -- the most difficult being the final door that leads to the throne room.
Did you know Azala is female and hence Queen of the Reptites? It's fitting, I suppose, in a game drowning in estrogen. Mesa like.
The final battle features the super important boss music, of course. Azala is quickly dispatched but the black tyrannosaur is beefy beyond belief. His fire attack isn't so bad since Ayla and Lucca have fire resistant armor but Crono takes it on the chin.
Let's ignore the fact that an impact with an extraterrestrial object large enough to cause a global ice age would vaporize everything for hundreds of miles. Or: those 'dactyls can really fly!
All the warps required to reach the Zeal palace are just gratuitous.
23 -- Pimp my Epoch:
In the sewers I managed to skip the second appearance of the two froggies, missing out on humorous dialogue. Oh well, all in the name of speed.
Why oh why are doors in the future locked with the power of an amulet charged with an insanely difficult to obtain energy from 12,000 B.C.? Hmmm? What if the janitor needed to get a broom or something?
The swallow is the third strongest weapon in the game for Crono and ups all my attacks by several hundred points of damage. It also sports +3 speed, or +1 over the +2 Slasher. This will be very handy until Crono meets his maker.
24 -- On a Chain Gang:
I tried, I really tried to pull of Tilus's insane emu strategy here but I just couldn't. He antipodes the blue beast and the mud imp and, using the magic of being able to tell the future, heals the appropriate characters. It ends up being a couple turns faster than what I do here but it's so difficult I just went with this.
This is still a tough battle, though -- as you can see, there are numerous opportunities for failure. Their physical attacks are just so strong.
Unfortunately, Crono was put to sleep first thing 99% of the time. This didn't occur in any of my other test runs so I am rather puzzled as to what I did to deserve such a fate...again. The rest of the time I just hope his sleep bombs don't send me to dreamland.
Some may accuse me of insanity for taking on the rubble after such a vexing battle. I welcome the straight jacket.
25 -- Like Mt. WOE Dude:
This segment was nice and relaxing -- the only thing to worry about was killing two rubbles in a row in a timely manner.
26 -- Giggity Giggity GAIA:
I think this game needs more giant monstrosities such as the infamous Giga Gaia. Without the absorbing armor this guy's attacks almost wipe me out in one turn. Thankfully, the combination of the swallow sword and falcon hit allow me to show him who's boss. I have no idea why when his arms return they have only half health -- I like it, though.
Don't feel too nervous about Crono's tenuous grip on life in regards to my overall strategy of the game. If he was too weak I could've always put the silver earring on him.
Note that even though Crono and Ayla both have a speed of 15 their gauges do not always reflect this fact.
After Gaia, Dalton is such a chump.
27 -- Under the Sea:
Under the sea! I'll attempt to not burst out into song.
The solution to all of life's problems is falcon hit. Those long horizontal lines of enemies in the elevator gauntlet are just asking for it.
28 -- The Ocean Palace Disaster:
The golem twins are a roadblock designed to make you cry. These guys can easily wipe the floor with Crono's mop like head. I was clueless on how to proceed until I carefully watched Tilus's run and literally wrote out what he did every single turn.
Basically, Lucca's hypno spell is obviously the central key. It's possible to miss one or both of them, resulting in failure, so every casting makes me a little nervous. Also, I purposely wait for Lucca's gauge to be almost full so right after the falcon hit I can cast it again right away since they wake up when hurt.
Now, why fire 2? No matter what you do the twins will eventually get around to attacking with their godlike 500 damage physical spell so I have to reset their element with something and this is perfect. Each reset gives you a precious turn or two. That's also why I open with Crono's lightning 2 spell.
Assuming all the hypno spells hit, this makes an insanely hard battle not so bad.
Lots of story telling after this. Goodbye, Crono, t'was nice knowing you. What? I can save you later? I don't understand...no, I'll think I'll skip it. Thanks anyway.
When Mt. Woe fell into the ocean a giant tidal wave should have engulfed the underground settlement. I'm glad they at least went with a large island falling a mile or two making a modest wave. OK, so it wiped out everything. Good enough for me.
How did Dalton capture us? He's such a puny bad guy. I'm ashamed, personally.
29 -- A New Ally:
Since I de-equipped all the items I wanted to save I simply have to go to one chest which happens to be conveniently placed by the exit.
I wanted to see what the boss golem was going to do -- too bad he's a big 'fraidy cat. Maybe it was a big group hug.
Like I said, Dalton is a chump. He evidently likes golems a lot so I'm sure he doesn't mind being in their dimension or wherever he ended up.
Magus is on our team! Hooray! This guy is seriously overpowered at this point in the game -- strong magic defense, strong physical defense, and crazy magic attacks. Works for me!
30 -- The Genocide Dome:
OK, I'll understand if no one watches this. Just know that I spend approximately 20 minutes using lightning 2 followed quickly by laser spin to kill everything in the Geno Dome conveyor belt.
Those speed tabs are important. In addition to the speed belt, this assures that Robo will always be able to attack and the enemies will never get a turn -- ever! This sucked up a huge amount of time in Tilus's run. Plus, never being attacked removes the threat of losing a character and having to start over.
31 -- Visiting Mom:
Some were confused by this title. Magus is Schala's sister -- which is why he wants to save her so much -- and hence Queen Zeal's son. Yes, I know one NPC says he's a step-son -- this is a bogus translation.
The Black Omen is a huge place. We're only going to go maybe 1/3 of the way through to collect some very important items in preparation for the final fight with Lavos. But first you have to go through the Mega Mutant and his chaos-all spell. At this point in the game I only have one status protecting piece of equipment since I am skipping as much as possible -- Magus's amulet.
Color me confused when I am able to control Lucca. She was chaosed and then put to sleep. However, after the sleep attack she came back to normal. Huh? In all other runs and fights she would be snoozing on the ground, requiring a normal attack from the mutant to wake her up. How bizarre!
This segment took a lot of attempts. The mutant is no pushover and then I have to steal two gold earrings (+50% health) from the robot guys. That's right -- Ayla can flirt with robots using her womanly charms. For Pete's sake, her charm accessory (which I do not collect) is a bra. I love the Japanese!
32 -- Black Omen Interior:
Fairly straightforward. I know it's possible to avoid all fights on the elevator if you're lucky but I'm going to end up fighting ruminators later anyway so I didn't mind. The final room with the Nu is an elite item paradise -- vigil hat, haste helm, and mega elixirs. I love it!
33 -- Elixir Extravaganza:
Here I charm mega elixirs from the ruminators and then fight them one last time to level up Robo.
34 -- Lavos:
Of course I use the Epoch to smash through the shell.
I am in love with this guy's catchy/epic music.
The first phase of the inner version of Lavos is only tricky at the beginning. Doors of Doom, AKA the titty lasers, wipe out Robo because he has the worst magic defense in the game. Afterwards if he uses his sickles on the wrong person it can lead to a reset but he usually cooperates. As soon as the left arm dies we're in the clear. The rest is simply using elixirs when appropriate and just keeping the pressure on.
The final version of Lavos, AKA The Fly Astronaut, is insane. I'll just say it took many tries and leave it at that. Feel free to laugh as Robo gets owned for 3,400 damage by crying heavens.
This is easily the most random battle in the game, from whether he'll use crying heavens and his brutal slap on a regular basis to the time periods he warps to that lead to different specials. Too many slaps and too many crying heavens means I am dead because they are so strong. I can survive one slap if I have a shield on but he often slaps multiple times along with crying heavens so I spend too much time resurrecting/healing anyway.
Grandstone -- this is survivable if everyone is at max life and Lucca has a shield up. If one of the bits follows this up with a charge or magic attack I might as well reset. Thankfully one bit is already dead by the time he uses this.
Evil Star -- looks cool but half health isn't that threatening.
Invading Light -- similar to grandstone. Very painful.
Dreamless -- I really don't want him to use this because it means Robo is going bye bye. Thankfully he doesn't until the very end of the game.
I don't recommend watching the aftermath of Lavos's death if you're prone to seizures.
I've been referring to Lavos as a he but since he makes offspring I guess it's really she...unless Lavos is asexual. Lavos being female would fit in with the rest of the game. I think I'll stop talking now before I embarrass myself further.